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Posts Tagged ‘vegetable

22
Oct
11

October Planting – What you can plant right now and when you can eat it

Wayback when I created a handy little chart of growing times for common food plants which proved quite popular. So let’s put it in immediate terms- What can you plant this Labour weekend and when will you be able to eat it?

~~A reminder that this is for a guide for temperate New Zealand.~~

Plant now for December harvest

Leaf lettuce, Mustard greens, Radish, Rocket, Coriander, Parsley

Plant now for January harvest

Beans, Beetroot, Bok Choy, Broccoli*, Cabbage*, Capsicum, Chillies, Cucumber, NZ spinach, Swiss chard, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Basil, Dill, Sunflowers

Plant now for February harvest

Aubergine, Carrot, Corn, Leeks, Zucchinis, Pumpkin

Plant now for March harvest

Celery, Parsnips, Potatoes, Yams/Oca

 

* Yes, you can grow these now but I don’t advise it because of whitefly.

Buy seeds online

You can buy quality vegetable and herb seeds online right now at Trade Me and I’ll make darn sure they get to you ready to sow next weekend.

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19
Sep
10

Let us speak now of lettuce…

Lettuce is by far the world’s favourite salad green. The Egyptians were growing it way back in 4500 BC and it’s been the darling of the salad and the sandwich ever since. There is an incredible array of lettuce available for the discerning gardener – colour, style, leaf-form and grace. Only a disappointing sample can be found on supermarket shelves, selected primarily because they keep better. But the delights of fresh-picked leaves straight from the garden can’t be beaten.

I’m an avid fan of the rosette forms of the loose leaf lettuce. Loose leaf is ready to pick in just a couple of weeks and is heat tolerant. Sow more every two weeks for a constant salad supply. I don’t mulch around my lettuce as slugs just love the taste of little leaves and like to hide in mulch.

Keep your favourite lettuce going from year to year by saving the seed

If you are new to seed-saving, lettuce is an easy place to start. There is very little crossing in lettuce, so your plants next year will almost certainly be just like your favourite lettuce this year.

Start by choosing the healthiest lettuce plants in your garden – you’re looking for strong, healthy growth. Make sure they taste great by picking a few of the outside leaves, you wouldn’t want to save something that tasted yuck. Once you’ve made your selection, put a stake next to it labelled ‘save for seed’. Many of my best seed-saving intentions have blown away when a hungry husband has eyed a particularly good looking plant.

Hopefully, your lettuce will escape predation and make it through to late summer, when it will flower. If your lettuce has bolted too early it’s not the best one to save seed from as this is not a trait you want to select for.

Seeds will be ready for collecting 12–24 days after flowering. Each day grab a clean bucket and shake the lettuce tops into it. Be careful not to damage the stem. Put the contents into a paper bag and leave to dry somewhere cool and airy. Label the bag with the type of lettuce, a description, when it was grown and where the seed came from. While this may not be so important if you keep the seed to grow each year – it may matter to people you wish to swap seed with. With a single lettuce able to produce 30,000 seeds, you’ll have plenty to swap.

Don’t plant try to plant your lettuce seed straight away – store for at least 6 months. The seed has a coating on it that will stop your fresh seed from germinating..

You’ll want to remove a lot of the fluff and chaff that was collected with it. When the seed is completely dry, rub it over a fine mesh. Gently blow on the seed and most of the detritus will blow away leaving small oblong seeds. Don’t blow too hard or you may lose it all! Now store it away safely and package some up to bring along to Seedy Sunday.

Lettuce varieties currently available as seed to New Zealand gardeners

 

Koanga

Devil’s ear, Finger, Four seasons (Quatre de saisons), Heritage lettuce mix, Joes, Lightheart (Ruawai), Mignonette, Odell’s, Tree lettuce, Webb’s wonderful, Winter.

Ecoseeds

Buttercrunch, Great lakes, Green oak leaf, Red oak leaf, Triumph, Webb’s wonderful.

Kings Seeds

Buttercrunch, Tom Thumb, Freckles, Little gem, Rouge d’hiver, Vivian, Great lakes, Grenoble, Apache, Cocarde, Canasta, Drunken woman fringed head, Lolita, Lollo blonda, Dark lollo rossa, Royal oak leaf, Salad trim, Perella rougette montpellier, Tango.

Franchi

Degli ortolani, Lingua di canario, Misticanza, Rossa di trento, Testa di burro D’Inverno, Misticanza quattro stagioni, La Resistente sel. “Franchi”, Burro d’Inverno, Parella rossa.

Egmont Seeds

Bug off, Cisco, Cos red majestic, Dover, Gourmet salad blend, Great lakes, Kaiser, Legacy, Onyx green frill, Red butterhead, Red fire, Solsun red frill, Tin tin cos, Tom Thumb, Veredes green oakleaf, Vesuvius, Xanthia red oakleaf.

Yates

Buttercrunch, Cos, Great lakes, Greenway, Webb’s wonderful, Winter triumph.

McGregor

Buttercrunch, Great lakes, Mixed gourmet blend, Lollo rosso, Mesclun mix

This article appeared in the September edition of Kapiti’s  On To It.

03
Nov
09

Growing magic beans

heirloom bean varieties New ZealandTo me, seeds are mini miracles. When I hold them in my hand I get terribly excited by all that potential inside them. And eating something that grew from a little seed I planted and nurtured is simply incredible.

Some seeds themselves taste delicious and some just look beautiful – some are both. I have twenty varieties of different beans at home and no two look the same – spotted, speckled, stripey and squiggly in a range of colours, shapes and sizes.

If you’ve never dabbled in the wonders of seeds, beans are a great place to start. They’re keen beans, they grow fast. Satisfyingly so. They’re easy – soak them overnight in some warm water, then direct sow them into your garden keeping them moist. In seven days you should see them coming up. Be vigilant for slugs though!

Magic beans

Our modern beans are derived from plants that once grew wild in Central and South America. But we’ve been cultivating beans for ages and archaeologists have found traces of domesticated types that date back more than 7000 years. Heirloom gardeners have hundreds of varieties of bean to choose from. So I’m just going to focus on a few of my favourite shelled beans, all available in New Zealand, some of which have been available through Seedy Sunday. Continue reading ‘Growing magic beans’

19
Apr
09

Jerusalem artichokes

The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called the sunroot or sunchoke or earth apple or topinamburI reckon that every garden should have Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus). It’s like an insurance policy – you’ll always have food growing in your yard. Because once you plant them, it’s almost certain you’ll always have them. And you won’t have to lift a finger to help them grow.

Don’t get your Jerusalems confused with your globes. The Jerusalem artichoke is a brown-coloured, knobbly, white-fleshed tuber root vegetable, much like a yam. It has quite a nutty flavour. Cook them like you would any other root vegetable.

Jerusalem artichokes grow in almost any soil type or shade condition, but do best in a light but rich soil. Pick your patch with these things in mind – 1 – the tops grow to about 2 metres and can easily shade out other plants – 2 – any small amount of the root left in the ground will produce another plan. Best time to harvest is in autumn when the sunflower-like heads die off.

Nutritionally, these tubers rock with plenty of potassium, iron, vitamin C, protein, niacin, thiamine and fibre. They contain about 57 calories per half cup. Margaret Lynch provides really good information on preparing Jerusalem artichokes for eating.

The tubers are also a wonderful source of biomass for ethanol production, good source of fructose and a great forage crop for livestock, especially pigs.

Jerusalem artichoke links and recipes after the jump. Continue reading ‘Jerusalem artichokes’

24
Sep
08

Rocket Farming

I may have inadvertently started the potentially great Kapiti Coast rocket (Eruca sativa) weed problem. And I have mixed feelings about it. We simply don’t need any more weeds around this place. But I’m always happy when things self sow, it’s the way things are meant to happen.

The rocket came from certified-organic stock, and I first planted it 2 years ago. It’s been self-seeding regularly which has been fabulous, growing all year round. Now it has started growing in my lawn, proving that it doesn’t need great soil to do well. It’s frost-resistant and drought-tolerant. It does go to seed quickly though.

Many years ago my interest in lettuce waned. It was simply a case of over-use. I was uninspired by salady greeny leafy things until a relative newcomer rocketed into my world and rocked it! Rocket – I love your peppery flavour, the zest you bring into my life. You’re a match made in heaven with tomatoes and you are out of this world with haloumi.

The flowers are really pretty and are a tasty garnish or addition to salads. And a little reading at Plants for a Future suggests that the seeds could make a mustard alternative. The seed yields a semi-drying oil which is a substitute for rapeseed oil. It can also be used for lighting, burning with very little soot. The powdered seed has antibacterial properties.

I love it rocket – it’s one of those plants that deliver on flavour, attractiveness, medicinal and industrial properties. It’s a plant I’ll be nurturing in my garden for a longtime to come.




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